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Ever done something you’ve been thinking about for years, but completely different from how you thought it would go?
Yeah. That is how this happened. Am I surprised at this point? That is how it happens? Enough to keep me tickled by life.
I sit here nodding, “yup, that’s a tattoo alright… I did that.”
Here is the tale.
Stay with me, it’s a play by play medicine adventure.
The morning started with very vulnerable sex. A kind of sex I don’t do much, and by that mean, I had refused to for years, so really I guess it has returned to be as an option for very intentional occasions. I’m talking about the kind of sex that is really about holding the other person. I used to do this a lot. So much so that I didn’t know I was doing a thing or that there was a different kind. Often I did it in a style that was toxic for me, I didn’t understand why at the end the other person felt better and I felt terrible until I realized it was a way of being and then I stopped it all together. Turns out, there are so many different ways to energetically share and exchange in all kinds of intimate spaces. Learning learning.
That morning, I offered myself as a safe and honoring haven for a tender love’s vulnerability. Part of the matured version of this kind of sharing had to do with being receptive to their fluids, or rather not receptive. I knew I didn’t want their cum in me or on me, and that was two-fold:
- That it didn’t feel good to think about. Like it’s one thing to carry a bag for a friend for a minute, and it is a whole other thing for them to unload their bag into your bag. No thanks, I’ll pass on that this time.
- It was part of their healing to be in touch with their own potency for themselves. This was about holding space for a human’s coming home to their own being. That was the core of the ceremony I was participating in. That coming home and feeling and receiving from and to themselves, that didn’t need to involve me.
Deep. Vulnerable. Tender. Conscious.
Then we practiced. Separately for an hour. I did a number of my common morning practices. Here, most mornings, I go to the pool and bless the water, ask for the water to heal and show me the way. Remind me of our true nature. I sing and make offerings and then I jump in swimming and feeling my body, water, breath, and heart rate.
Bali has been showing me that water healing is heart healing. That if I want to heal the waters – which I DO – then I must let the waters heal in me. That means I must let my heart heal. It has been so deep. Caverns of memories from childhood, exs from high school, teachers and power dynamics from all along. Ancestral lines, parents, family. Can you hear the echos? As I reflect it’s echoey yet they don’t come echoing, they come specific, pointed, often painful, often curious, beautiful and yet consistently distinct.
Heart, love, trust, self-knowing, self sharing.
All that gets to be forgiven, be blessed and truly healed.
Next part of my practice was my reiki self-practice. I focused on the alignment and clearing of self and then directly asked for guidance and blessings on the day’s work. There were plans set out for the coworking space in Ubud to get some stuff DONE. So I was asking for alignment and wellness in those endeavors for all. Guidance for the life’s work of the day.
Getting out the door took some time.
I moved the altar from the downstairs to upstairs and then became clear I had to make my menstrum offering immediately. Aerin had a jar of their semen and so we stepped outside to the back of the house to the compost to make prayers for the healing that was already underway.
I played a 7 line song about the rapid growth in the jungle and we were on the scooter to town.
We got DELICIOUS FOOD at a place called Mudra, I drank the ceremonial cacao drink. That right there was the moment I could have guessed ALL notions of plans for the day was a total joke. Soon after just a few sips, like a truth elixir of the heart, I began to share stories of grief and wonderings, regrets of my marriage, my divorce, my current fears, and dreams. I felt sadness dripping from me. We sat in the restaurant and I openly cried, and everyone smiled at me and I felt well. Breathing. The waves washed through into present moment gratitude and we ate.
The next couple of hours were filled with bizarre starts and stop of work, like getting all the buttons matched with the right holes after dressing in the dark. Then we arrived at Sang Spa for the midday massages and mud wrap we had scheduled. Yeah, it is magical here. I had a powerful massage, in which I repeated my Permission Affirmation.
Inviting and granting myself permission to heal, change, be myself, know love, to experience healing, I felt a shift in my being:
I am now available to experience the healing, to see the practitioner, get the work that is here for me to heal my heart.
Then it was mud time. I was coated in Balineses boreh spices and wrapped up. I breathed deep and prayed in the herbal swaddle. I decided to soul travel to visit the Grandmother’s Council. I journeyed to the place where I commune with them, made my offerings and sat in my arrival chair.
Wooosh. There they all were. Busy busy busy. Crowded around, they were working on something. One came and took my hand, reminding me of my Grandmother’s mantel and took me into the gathering to see what was happening. There in the center was a cauldron and in it, the cosmos, in there a Spider weaving and spinning stars, and moons, and space. Diligently.
Victory Spider Woman Weaves Victory.
I stepped away.
The Grandmother asked, “Are you ready to heal your heart?”
I said, “Yes.”
She informed me of the following:
“Here on your arm.
11 layers of webbing.
Stick and poke style.
Walk out, go down the alley, make a right on the street, the shop at the end, that’s the place and your practitioner.”
To heal my heart I was told to get a tattoo.
I could feel the place on my arm. I could feel it from the inside. When I was unwrapped I could see blood raised in the area, slightly, speckled almost in a spiral.
I rinsed. And then there was a flower bath.
Hold the phone. Stop everything. Full STOP.
I live a blessed life. I have taken many a glorious bath with flowers. And this was another level. They had brewed a massive flower tea bag and covered the water from edge to edge in petals.
15 minutes to soak with the plants.
Waves of bewilderment and prayers of gratitude for this planet. What a mother! I MEAN COME ON! This planet is amazing! Water AND flowers!!!
It was all so very eliciting of the fae. It was magical.
It was so beautiful.
After I got out, I adorned my face with spider eyes and crown. I looked myself in my eyes. I thought, “Will you let yourself become her?” (“Her” just means myself, JIC you’re new to this self-discovery proclamation in the third person I do.) As I looked I saw this powerful healed being inside asking if I would let her through. I said, “Yes” and was then filled with determination and calm.
As we prepared to leave, our hosts asked, “What will you do now?”
There was a pause and I said, “I might go get a tattoo.”
Aerin said, “News to me.”
I said, “Come let’s walk and talk.”
We walked out, went down the alley, made a right on the street, and walked down to the shop at the end. As we walked I shared all the reasons I didn’t or wouldn’t get the tattoo and the one reason I was going to. I asked for medicine and was given clear instructions. I wanted to accept the healing being offered. I have learned time and time again about the risk and reward journey.
I was scared of such a permanent choice, and yet I kept being reminded that my body is one of the least permanent aspects at playing this millennia long wave of healing.
What’s a tattoo when the prayer is for water, children, a healed heart?
Worth it, without delay, that’s what.
I walked in and explained that I had a vision to local Balinese tattoo artist Ona. I shared the details I had, showed them my arm, the area. I said, “Can you see the energy under the skin?” They pointed to the point, “the center, I see here.” They saw it, too. I knew.
I chanted to Ganesh, they drafted the image, Aerin took photos. I made flower and salt offerings outside the door.
I went to the bathroom up the street past a series of storefronts, and the restaurant had one of the first love songs I shared with my ex-wife. I stood in the dusk light on the tucked away alley, and listened to this 2012 pop song touch my heart and open me deeper.
Then it was time.
I have considered getting a tattoo for years. Periodically. A year ago, in June, I almost got a one-inch symbol 4 different times. Nope. That day it was different. It was like this.
Before they started, I told them, “This is ceremony. Healing. If you want to chant, pray, sing, whatever. You’re welcome to.” He shared a chant with me, one the Balinese do at the beginning of things. He chanted as he used the traditional style of stick and poke to bring the ink to my skin to be. This style is as it sounds, a needle and ink puncture press by hand. Press press press press.
I wept. I wept before the first touch of the needle. Ona placed his foot on my foot. Steady. Breathing. I wept my heart. My grief, my old self. Pouring. Ona chanted. I chanted. Aerin witnessed.
I thought, “Good Girls don’t get a spider web tattooed on their forearm.”
I knew before and then it was confirmed from the first puncture that the medicine was true. That I was healing. That this would deliver me through. That the Grandmother had sent me to receive what I asked for.
It took three hours.
I listened to my Spider Woman Weaves poem.
I listened to the song I wrote the last time I put on my wedding dress before releasing it.
I listened to a recording of a teacher teaching the “I am always free” mantra.
Then someone opened the door, returning a scooter rental, key, and helmets to Ona, and said “we are complete”
I felt the words vibrate through me. “Completion, Sophia.” I questioned it, “maybe that wasn’t for me.” Then I heard the storefront next to us closing its garage-style doors. I laughed. “Closing time. I hear you, ancestors,” buzzing through me, “that part is complete. I got it.”
I listened and sang to Ani Difranco’s Angry Anymore.
I played a couple of other songs.
We sat in the quiet.
I breathed deeply. I watched my skin swell, I watched the ink move in. I felt the wiping away of the excess ink. Layers of my skin exfoliated over and over. Tender. I witnessed my own healing.
Ona had to get a stronger needle. He told me my skin was strong and dulling the needle.
Tough skin. Got to get past it to heal the heart.
I was full of body response chemicals.
Altared dreamscape sensing.
I asked Ona to speak of the prayers the Balinese have for the water. He shared.
I ran my prayers beads through my fingers.
I asked Ona to tell me about how they pray for the children in Bali. He gently recounted their practices.
I spoke the names of the children my family with a heart filling and flowing with gratitude and blessings.
I pressed my skin down to steady it.
Hours in Aerin placed their hand on my back. A soft contact I accepted.
I let the medicine work me.
Then it was drawn and only detail to be done. I spoke up in the few places I wanted another poke, more length, a darker line. I mostly let the artist work, and the healer heal through Ona. A few times I let the healer heal through with my own voice. I let myself speak for myself. I trusted all parties present with the healing at hand.
That is an immense sign of blessed and healed life. I give praise and gratitude to all the teachers, healers, loves, medicines, and Great Spirit to be able to say such a thing. Not my first time saying it and not my last. Victory.
I trusted all parties present with the healing at hand.
I hadn’t eaten on purpose. I wanted the belly spacious.
I paid Ona. They accepted it and placed it in their offering bowl.
I was altered. Deep. We walked out and got some food at a spot where I had been befriended by a local teen. I had promised I would come back to visit. She was surprised I returned. I was late, but I did return. We exchanged numbers so as she said, “we can communicate.”
Returned to the scooter and rode home in the quiet of the Bali night streets.
Rescheduled my morning appointment.
Texted my besties.
Went to bed. Arm up.
Slept strangely as one does in pain sometimes. Riding the waves of skimming consciousness and then surrendering all forms of anything to anything. Journeying in and out of my body through the night. This is often how I sleep when I am in ceremony. It’s almost not sleep perse… it’s another kind of being. I did rest and I did heal.
Here and now still processing. All the more trusting.
I woke up the day after thinking two things.
One: I have a tattoo. Speechless really.
Two: I am so grateful I listened to the guidance. It is so easy to love my life when I do that. I woke up knowing that the day before, I listened.
And that gave me a heap of lasting hope and faith today.
I love you.
… YOUR RISKS and your rewards
… Your Heart Healing
… The waters
… The children
… All of it. ALL. All. All.